Dennis and Cam Raedeke have been more places than the average person, traveling the world by boat for fifty years. What motivates that kind of unique lifestyle? All will have an opportunity to hear the complete story and ask questions when the Raedekes and biographer Phil Peterson, along with pianist Dan Chouinard, share a presentation, “Around the World and Then Some,” covering the Raedeke’s travel adventures on Saturday, June 15th at Festival Theatre in St. Croix Falls.
Their adventure began with Cam’s family business. Her grandfather owned Muller Boat Company, which originated in Stillwater as a boat building company and expanded into Taylors Falls in tour boat operations. She grew up in Taylors Falls with her father, mother and sister, spending most of her time in and around the waters of the St. Croix River. The Muller family’s paddlewheel boats have been traversing the St. Croix River since 1906, giving thousands upon thousands of visitors a river’s-eye view of the beautiful bluffs and a lesson in geology as the boat crews tell the history of this region.
Dennis enters the story as a young member of the U.S. Air Force stationed at the Air Force Radar Station near Osceola, Wisconsin. Once he and Cam met, and he learned about her family’s business, the stage was set for a lifetime of adventure together.
After being discharged from the service, Dennis immediately went to work at Muller Boats for his father-in-law, Bob Muller. Driving and maintaining the excursion boats was perfect training for someone with a sense of wanderlust, for such a person needs to know how to fix motors and navigate bodies of water. In his youth, sailing small boats on lakes and rivers in Canada built skills and confidence. As an adult, constant practice using larger and larger boats helped him gain valuable experience. Upgrading to a larger vessel and sailing Lake Superior was the next step in their intentional pursuit. The dream of traveling the world and sailing the oceans provided the motivation to study hard and learn all that could be learned, in order to see that dream become a reality.
Dennis and Cam eventually took over the Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tour operations, including the canoe rental business, and expanded into the downhill ski industry to fill the winter months. They worked hard to turn Wild Mountain Ski Area into a modern, profitable tourist attraction.
With their businesses growing and doing well, the Raedekes were able to purchase their first catamaran in California. Their first extended family adventure on the ocean took place in 1979 aboard the original Wild Wind, sailing with their three teenaged kids from Los Angeles to Florida through the Panama Canal, a trip lasting four months and covering 6,000 miles.
Amy Frishmon, daughter and current co-manager of Wild Mountain, relates how her parents have influenced her outlook on life. “I consider myself blessed to have parents that are so adventuresome,” she states. “They taught me that anything is possible. I’ve been able to travel throughout the world with them as well as with my existing family. My love of travel, adventure and the courage to go anywhere and to do anything definitely comes from my parents.”
After many more years of traveling, the dreams and plans of sailing the world have now been completed, a rare thing indeed. The Raedekes feel satisfied and fortunate, and even more so as they share their experiences with interested readers. But Dennis is quick to tell the grandchildren, “This did not happen by accident.”
“Around the World and Then Some” with author Phil Peterson, Dennis and Cam Raedeke, and musician Dan Chouinard will take place at Festival Theatre on Saturday, June 15th, with a social hour at 6pm and the presentation beginning at 7pm. Copies of the book will be available. Tickets for this event are just $15, with the proceeds going toward the purchase of a baby grand piano for the theatre. Call the box office for reservations (715-483-3387) or purchase online.